Menghai Tea Factory (berylleb on ebay)
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Recent Tasting Notes
This tea has opened up in the compression of the cake since being in the pumidor. Dark apricot slightly burnt sugar taste almost to the point of being a tad bitter. Dark brew in the cup, juicy mouth-feel. Nice and warming to the body. A very nice tea to re-visit.
This tea is dark on the first couple of brews, an aroma of an almost peat mos like. Leaves were dark all the way through in color. It had an almost raisin like taste with a good deal of sweetness with absolutely no bitterness or astringency. A well aged shu that the years have been kind to and mellowed out very much. Since this is what the factory produces a large amount of I am sure it is blended with a good variety of different leaf. This cake is sometimes called the “purple sky” cake and very nice in most of the different years I have had the recipe from. A very consistent cake from Menghai.
I really can’t compete with *Bonnie*’s previous review so I won’t try. I also got this from mrmopar in a tea swap with a few other pu`erhs and msut admit i’m starting to like the stuff. Brewed in gaiwan with rinse 20/10/20/30/etc. infusions until was pu`ewy no more.
Thank you mrmopar for this sample Pu-er!
What a lovely gift I received one day a about a month ago from my friend mrmopar. Samples of Pu-er! Tears of delight, really!
Tucked into the package were little tuo cha’s that I can’t read the names of (written in Chinese) so I won’t be reviewing them, but they look like pieces of candy. Colored wrappers full of mystery.
I’m having so much fun with them!
This morning, I picked one of the chunky samples in a labeled zip bag. It looked like dark, hard and gnarly Shu Pu-erh bark. Excellent!
A quick wash first, and I was set for several infusions in my purple clay Gaiwan.
Only the first infusion had a lighter brown color. The rest was deep red-brown. The wet leaf scent was mild, more on the vanilla bread side than leather.
My first impression was, this is a good Pu-erh.
I could tell right away with the first light steeping, that there was something different about the taste. It was slightly sweet, very juicy with a spice to it that I couldn’t sort out and pin down.
The feeling of the tea in my mouth was light and smooth…with the flavor of banana skin way off in the background. At first I wasn’t convinced of that, and I walked around the room to make sure I wasn’t picking up a scent from somewhere else. Banana skin, yes.
Steeping again, a much thicker brew this time, and quite red-brown. The flavor was still not earthy or woody and no flavor of cedar either.(This was another surprise because I would have expected woodiness with such vibrant color.)
What I tasted was vanilla cream, some salt and a hint of caramel.
There was something else. Spice or herb, a savory something that I could not identify. The Pu-erh was playing with me gently.
Pouring a third time, the thick and rich broth tasted more like cedar wood with a tang that lasted just a moment…then melted away into a smooth, sweet velvety finish.
I am always tempted to add a few (very few) grains of sugar when a Pu-erh comes to the caramel, cedar, salty stage. I know what will happen next! The same flavor that you taste with quality caramels is what this Pu-erh tastes like with just a little sweetness added to it. (a little cream is nice too). I love salted creamy caramel!
Don’t misunderstand, I like my Pu-erh straight, but sometimes…it becomes dessert towards the last of the steepings.
This is a very good Pu-erh!
I wrote a story for my blog and here’s an intro if you want to read more, it’s about a time long ago when I was working at the Children’s Shelter School, Christmas (1979). www.teaandincense.com
Shelter School Christmas
Our facility was a room in an abandoned Psychiatric Hospital from the 1930’s. A big, drafty, wood and plaster building that creaked and groaned. It looked like a set from an old Hollywood movie!
Two social workers sat in the hallway at all times, while the teacher and I were alone with 10-15 students in a classroom lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves and tall windows, (a scene right out of a Harry Potter movie set). If you peeked in, you’d agree it was a strange looking scene, old radiators and wood planking.
During the Christmas Holidays I decided to plan a party. Without a kitchen, I was still able to teach the kids to make snacks. Then, we decorated by cutting colored paper rings and streamed them across the room. We made strings of popcorn and glittery stars. Each student made a soft, stuffed ornament that was theirs to keep and take to whichever group home or foster home they would be sent to.
It was important to show how to create something from little or nothing, how to celebrate when life is frightening and uncertain. It’s a great lesson in life.
We were going to finish with a party!
I taught some of the tougher hard to reach boys how to properly serve tea and snacks. We even used serving trays for our party.
These boys took their job seriously, practicing over and over again.
(the story continues)
Oh, by the way…Happy St. Nicholas Day! Dec. 6th this is celebrated in many places around the World. 4th Century Nicholas of Myra gave to the poor and defended children and women. He paid the dowery for poor women to marry (something important back then).
Today’s tea was this 0532 that I was gifted by The Nameless Steepster. Thank you.
It’s a dark brown mass of leaves in a bag. I forgot to sniff the leaves. Shame on me. My excuse is that I seem to be braindead today. Too much delivering flowers for my wife this morning, methinks. Fortunately, despite the lack of notes on the dry leaf, and my complete inability to type two letters correctly in a row, I am able to get the rest of this down on in 0s and 1s for you to read.
Anyway, the aroma from the wet leaf is a sort of earthy leaf mulch aroma. Quite pleasant really. Not to self: don’t stick nose so close to hot teapot. Ouch! Upon tasting the tea, I am struck by how smooth this tea is. It is really smooth, like they tell you beer is but the beer is never really that smooth. The taste is mineral and earth and the liquor is quite thick, giving the tea a healthy body. There is something else going on as well, a taste I recognise that I cannot put a name too. Perhaps something herby but I really am not sure about that one. Whatever it is, it is really quite pleasant. I like this tea and would be interested to try it again in a couple of years once it has had a chance to age a bit.
Thank you to a Steepsterite who wishes to remain nameless. Said person has done me a good turn by sending this tea to me.
So, I spent most of today trying to persuade my new router/modem to talk to my laptop via the wireless connection. Needless to say I got somewhat frazzled as well as being irked that the wireless speed was registering at less than one tenth of the wired speed. Clearly the issue was to do with my laptop (a venerable old soldier, if ever I saw one) and the young whippersnapper that is the new router. I suspect the router made a disparaging comment about old people, or something like that, and the laptop rapped the router on the shins with its stick. Then they both sulked. Anyway, it is sorted now, and I rewarded myself with a pot of tea. I think I deserved it!
I used a 170ml Yixing pot to brew this tea and put 8g of tea in the pot. Then I rinsed it for a few seconds to clear it out and wake it up. The rinse was rich and dark already so I steeped it for 10 seconds in the first instance. The liquor was still very dark. It tasted earthy, slightly metallic, but with a hint of cinnamon behind those other flavours. I found it to be smooth and light overall. The mouthfeel was silky and much less full than most teas I drink, but that made this a particularly easy tea to drink. Given how the tea is lasting (Steep 8 and still going strong) that is probably a good thing because I shall be drinking it for the rest of the evening. I shall certainly not complain about that!
mrmopar kindly sent me some samples of his pu. Thank you.
I decided to try this one first because I loved the name. Golden peacock brings to mind the faded grandeur of a royal court. I wondered if it would bring that grandeur to my faded kitchen.
The dry tea smells earthy with a slight fishiness that I expected of a shu. It arrived as a chunk from a beeng so I picked it apart carefully. The leaves seemed quite loose and easy to pick apart. They were smallish with a couple of golden ones in among the brown.
Brewing the tea up, the first wash smells of that same earthiness and the liquor is bright red. I threw the wash and brewed properly. Still the same dark red liquor but the earthy aroma has gone and it is replaced by something sweeter that I cannot quite describe. Tasting the tea, it was initially too hot to pick out any real flavour. It was mellow and rich. As it cooled I was stunned by the sudden emergence of a flavour that took me back to my childhood and the sweet shop near the bus station. I used to regularly by a quarter of boiled sweets from there on my way home. The tea reminded me of Cola Cubes. Not the sugary sweetness but certainly the flavours at the back of that. Then, as it cooled more I thought I detected a note of sherbet pips. And that was just the first steeping.
Repeat steepings have shown that I was not imagining it. This shu is earthy and mellow with the sweetness of cola and sherbet at the back of it. I am now on steeping number 6 and feeling like my eyeballs are swimming, despite the small size of my pot. The tea is still going strong. Ah well, it has been great reaching this point and I can see how it fares later after a rest. This tea is a really nice example of a shu that I could drink a lot of. It lacks the fishiness of some shu and has a mellow sweetness that works greatly in its favour.
this is a premium dayi well worth the cost. it is called Wei Zui Yan which i think translates into the dense flavor of the juice. this tea is so rich it almost resembles a fine assam blend. strong and dark without being overpowering. very nice flavor with almost the tartness and sweetness found in a blush wine. heavy mouthfeel on this one. did a 20 sec wash and a 15 steep a very enjoyable tea that carried over to 4 infusions of sweet taste. the first impression of the cake was a small amount of mossiness. the wet leaves unfolded beautifully with the aroma of a wet leather shoe. and the taste was great sitting outside and enjoying the warm sun of indian summer. i will have to repeat this dance with the tea on another warm evening.
Thank you mrmopar for this most silky Puerh!
Yesterday there was a long grey cloud parallel to the foothills by my house.
The cloud didn’t move.
When I walked from my car to the house I looked up at the texture and thickness of the huge monster and recognized it as a Lenticular cloud that you see at high altitude and was formed by moist air blowing over the Rocky Mountains. Constant light winds were keeping it in place, still and waiting.
I knew what was going to happen at sunset. I had seen from a greater distance a cloud monster like this one at Lake Tahoe. But this cloud was right over my head!
I went into the house, got my camera and checked how my buddies on Steepster were doing, when I noticed that my room was suddenly lit with golden light.
The cloud was illuminated by the setting sun which lit up my room!
I ran out the door with my keys and camera, took 3 shots over the complex and drove a block away to the entry of the Equine Center so that I could take my sky shots without buildings or cars.
I sat in the dirt and had the best time shooting a sky that was an ocean of gold, purple, pink and fire red. The color was so bright from ice crystals that the ground reflected a rose tint.
(I hope these pictures show up because I’ve been having trouble with flickr/yahoo.)
Sitting on the ground with the colors of Autumn thick and textured stretched across the sky, it was as if one enormous wing of an Angel was shielding me in an ethereal glow.
I can understand why the shephard David sat on a hillside writing songs of thanksgiving. I want to write Psalms after seeing or experiencing beauty.
The experience of last evening was so awe-inspiring, that I had no question about what kind of tea I wanted to drink this morning.
I picked Puerh.
Puerh always binds me to the appreciation of nature. I get all mushy sometimes about how much I love the rich and earthy thickness of it.
This Puerh I picked out of my to-be-reviewed stash at random.
I couldn’t find any information about it so the opinions are entirely my own.
My usual method is: A 30 second rinse followed by 3 steepings all at 30 seconds. The 4th steeping was increased to 3 minutes (pushing the envelope).
The wet leaves had a remarkable vanilla bean scent. I was surprised!
The liquor began as honey brown, deepening to rootbeer color with later infusions.
The first tasting was mild, lightly sweet and very light cedar. It was hard to tell that this was a Puerh for the lack of earthiness.
I expected the flavor to develop as the leaves opened though. The second steeping was the same as the first.
By the third steeping, I wondered what to do. Not a thing had changed from steeping 1,2,3.
I checked the leaves which HAD opened enough to produce some darkening as the steeping’s progressed.
Should I just drink this as I would a tea that wasn’t a Puerh? Add some sweetening?
I sweetening it a little and it was smooth and light but a bit boring to me.
I decided to increase the time to 3 minutes on the 4th steeping.
Now this was clearly a darker liquor, very smooth tasting, silky and mild. The only change from previous steeping’s was a little cedar bite on the tongue that quickly disappeared as the tea cooled.
This wasn’t a review of the earthy Shu Puerh’s I’m used to… quite the opposite. Don’t get me wrong though, this is a fine enough Puerh for people who DON’T like the earthy, stronger Puerh’s.
For anyone who is fearful and wants to try these exquisite tea’s this may be exactly the rare, golden beauty you’ve been looking for.
called ’’clouds’’ another great menghai dayi. very rich notes no taste of bitterness or the strong licorice taste of a young shu. tried a lesser tea, tossed it and picked this one off the shelf. much better now i am a happy camper! hints of oak and chocolate smooth and mellow as a great pu should be. a great way to end the night.
I had a little leaf left! I made about eight steeps and shared a peaceful evening of gong fu tea service with hubby by candlelight.
I love how this puerh starts to coat your mouth with a cedar-like oil starting around the fourth steep. It just keeps going and going as you steep. I think it was noticeably paler around the eighth steep. This is a lovely puerh, sweet and smooth.
Bonnie was so generous to share this wonderful puerh that she received from mrmopar, so many thanks to both of you!
I was feeling out of sorts tonight, both physically and mentally. I have a cold or allergies or something and a lot of mental stress right now, as we are in the midst of making some big decisions, except that we AREN’T making them, if you get my drift! I know it is past bedtime, but I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I went. Tea and soft music sounded especially inviting! (I already did the “driving fast down the expressway with the Pulse blasting” thing, it was time for something different.)
I have saved several samples from various people until I feel it is the right time to appreciate them, and it is the right time for this one!
Because both Bonnie and mrmopar said to throw away the rinse, I did, though I often drink the rinse. This rinse looked pale, so I followed instructions. The first steep at 30 seconds was mild and very civilized. This has no fishiness, a nice well-oiled horse tack aroma, and a whisper of polished cedar beams. Each steep was about the same length of time, but the third and fourth were noticeably darker. There is a lingering sweet aftertaste, and I don’t know if this makes sense but the tea feels extraordinarily WET. I am drinking from a tiny double-walled glass cup, but if this was in a great big glass I think I could just throw it back and chug it. This is so smooth and thirst quenching. My angry throat is a lot less angry, and my stuffed head seems to be clearing a bit.
As I sit here waiting for steep number….what is it now? Seven? I feel as if my mouth is coated with a delicious infused oil. Is this what truffle oil would be like? I have never had it, but it is what I imagine it must be.
Body and soul are much more fit for having drunk this tonight. This is so mild, so smooth, I think this would be a fabulous introduction to puerh for anyone who is afraid to try it. Thank you, thank you, again, to Bonnie and mrmopar.
First, thank you Bonnie, for this tea!
I’ve had 3 lattes today, & my son Drew & I split a small chocolate from Kakao. It was the size of a quarter & had cacao nibs & matcha in & on it. It was just a small piece of very dark chocolate, which I allowed to melt in my mouth until it was just the nibs. Now I need something grounding & this puerh sounded like it might be just right.
I am a gardener. In my backyard you will found 6 compost piles. Two of them are strictly for leaves (I have 3 pin oaks & various smaller trees). It takes 18 months to break down oak leaves, so the leaves I rake into a retaining area this fall won’t be used until the spring of 2014. They are an awesome addition to the clay-like soil we have here. The other 4 piles are for yard & kitchen waste. Everything starts in the first pile, gradually getting turned to the next pile in the row, hopefully by the time it gets to the last enclosure the compost is ready, thanks to the actions of various factors that cook the contents.
I mention this because Shu Puerh is basically compost, made from tea.
This does not bother me, as I also make sauerkraut & other cultured products at home, which are also ‘cooked’, or predigested by various bacteria, etc. I’m fairly new to puerh, but I understand the science!
So, dry there was an oceanic smell, wet the leaves smell like sea veggies. The tea itself was deeply grounding, mineral tasting, with a color that I can only describe as blood orange.
I steeped per Ms. Bonnie’s instructions, & although I enjoyed each steeping, I’ll say that the latter ones were my favorite, as the flavor got more mineral, more grounding. Just what I needed. Nothing frilly, no sweetener, just an earthy cup & me.
Thank you mrmopar for this sample Pu-erh tea
As a former lover of Louisiana style coffee (roasted chicory coffee, brewed and served with hot milk), Pu-erh has become my new morning favorite cuppa.
Before brewing, I was watching some Olympic distance swimming on TV and remembering how I first learned to swim in a water tank on Mine Hill overlooking Silicon Valley (San Jose).
My grandfather was foreman of a mountain that is known as New Almaden Quicksilver Mines (now a State Park) and next to the road to his house (which was the Parson’s home during the early days of California history) was a spring-fed water tank. Grandpa drained and painted the wooden water tank light blue, put 2×4 boards at spots around the top as hand-holds and then let the tank fill back up. This was our swimming hole. ICE COLD SPRING WATER!
(My family lived down a dirt path from Grandpa in what was an old Miner’s house for a little over a year. My brother and I traveled to grade school by jeep, traveling up and down the mountain. http://flic.kr/p/cNHKSo We played in the old ghost town buildings and caves.)
There was nothing better back then… than drinking red kool-aide and swimmin with the toxic mercury fumes from active retorts not far away.
This sample was a lovely dark brown bark nugget of ripe Pu-erh with a mild and sweet dry smell.
Rinsed once, and a 30 second steep each round.
The wet leaves began as a strong, nutty wheat bread aroma then changed on the second steep to bready leather like bread and boots toasting on the hearth togeather. On the third steep the leaves were sweet smelling, lightly leathery and bready.
The color of the liquor was clear, reddish brown, then very dark coffee and finally dark red brown.
1. When I took a gulp of the red-brown Pu-erh, I already was happy with the wheat bread scent from the wet leaves and the taste didn’t disappoint me. It was very savory, like an unsalted broth that seems salty and led to juiciness. The flavor was nutty sweet toasted pecan, full of energy on my tongue.
2. Wow, did the liquor get dark! There was a definate cedar and wheat taste which stopped just shy of bitter. The mouthfeel was juicy and very smooth. I could feel the energy in the tea like the power in the earth waking up in a soulful amen.
3. I held the tea in my mouth a moment and then drank it down, letting the flavor hit all my tastebuds like a wave. There was a huge flavor of wheatberries, nutty, rich and chewy. My daughter Annalisa grinds wheat for bread in a huge loud machine in her kitchen and is always baking with the granddaughters and taking bread to people. I love the smell of her bread and the wheat. The scent gets into your eyeballs!
I added a little sugar which created a wonderful liquor reminding me of those old fashioned candies you get at historic places made from Horehound and Sassifras. It’s why I make extra and drink Pu-erh cool or cold sometimes later in the day.
So far the Pu-erh’s from mrmopar are so good that I’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite. What a problem to have!
This is very drinkable for the smoothness. (I did like the first and third steep onward the best.)
30-40 seconds was way long enough for steeping and I used about
1.5 grams in 4oz boiling water.
Thank you mrmopar for this Puerh sample
When I open a box of samples and inside there is all Puerh’s…it’s Christmas in July in Colorado! Wha a treat!
This has never happened before! I am so thankful to mrmopar who must have read enough of my reviews to know that I would be appreciative (which of course I am!).
I’ve been talking to myself about Pu-erh’s lately.
“Self, I said, What do I need to know about Pu-erh and what is just going to make me crazy.”
Here’s what’s important and what’s not for me as a Puerh lover.
1. I am not a collector or a tea professional.
2. Tea companies receive lots of tea samples and only release a small amount for sale. They should have sorted out what’s best for the consumer. (Companies with a direct relationship with their source are my favorites)
3. I buy tea, I drink tea, I write and look for the good in tea.
My job is to find companies that I can trust to bring me the best quality tea experience for the money that I have to spend.
Long lecture I know…but for a reason this time.
I will be reviewing 9 puerh’s from mrmopar over the next week and I have no idea what the year of release and numbers mean. I will drink and write about the tea. It’s all I know how to do.
I was instructed to Rinse this Ripe Shu 20 seconds and Steep 30 seconds.
(Measured 1.5g dark brown bark in a 4oz gaiwan)
This was one of the most interesting wet Puerh’s I’ve SNIFFED. (Now that’s the non-snobby way to put it)
1. I do not lie when I say that on the first rinse the wet bark smelled like mulch and chocolate chip cookies. Oh yes!
2. Second steep the scent went to espresso, sage and mild leather.
4. Puerh bakery bread, comfy light and warm.
1. Steeped 30 seconds as instructed:
Lovely light amber liquor with a light Puerh earthy sweet scent.
The taste was dry and tarte but not sour. I noticed a cooling late in the sip like camphor. As the cup cooled the classic earthy Puerh richness, sweet and cloaklike bubbled up in a juicy finish. All was light and teasing.
2. Steeped at 30 seconds and the liquor became a quite dark amber.
As soon as the Puerh touched my tongue I could feel the tingle of spice and the furry thickness that I sometimes feel with Puerhs. Something like the bark of a Redwood tree which is pourous and fuzzy. There was a flavor that filled my mouth all tangy like quince paste (membrillo) and lingered on with a tingling sensation and peppery heat.
I put my head back for a moment and thought about the Mission District in San Francisco where I would go to buy long rectangular blocks of Membrillo in regular quince or orange flavor (orange was my favorite). I would serve this almost jell like fruit paste (sounds wierder than it is) cut into 3in x 1/2in rod shapes and stack them with mild white cheese (also cut into rods) in a cross hatch pattern and serve them as dessert at the end of a meal with espresso and chocolates (I was a coffee drinker back then). (Very Latin American treat for the end of a meal). I digress again… (Oh, my kids used to love seeing the pig tails, snouts and heads in the butcher shops in the Mission. Sheeps heads too. Cool kid gross stuff. And the stuff in Chinatown…hanging ducks and black eggs…more cool stuff for kids!)
3. I went off instructions to Steep 1 minute!
This was a pretty dark honey amber coffee brown liquor.
The shot of liquid in my mouth was pure energy first and then a taste just shy of bitter, like the bitterness in coffee beans. An awakening for the taste buds.
The next flavor was cedar, then dryness and after that something astonishing happened.
What should not happen, did happen.
The Puerh became silky smooth and like a wave that hit a wall..reversed coming back forward… spreading the silkiness to the front of my mouth all the way to my lips. I swear it did this! I don’t know what to say?
4. Steeped on a going for broke 3 minute ride!
Nice dark amber colored liquor, earthy scent, sweet and mild.
This should be a Dead Mans Brew. I was thinking that going for broke would be daring and bold.
When I took a big drink, the energy was in the liquor but the tea was surprisingly smooth, sweet and juicy.
This was an elegant sophisticated Puerh that completely caught me off guard. It bore little resemblance to what I was drinking earlier.
The journey through the previous steepings to this one had been like being on a train and stopping at various platforms until arriving at the final destination. A new Country opened up with a vision of it’s own.
Everything about this place took me to my memories of walks at Point Lobos in the Springtime along the Monterey Coast just South of Carmel. Sea Otters playing in the small bay, Cypress Trees all twisty trunked with horizontal branches pointing every which way. The smell of the meadow with new flowers and wild sage. Sea salt, Ponderosa Pine, Redwood and Sand.
Why would a Puerh take me to this place that should be better suited for a Sheng or Dragonwell? Good question!
The sense of a certain place in the memories of a scent, sound or colors….a particular feeling of peace… not just the taste of a particular tea can evoke the connection which is what happened here with me. http://youtu.be/mLtPHZOLKBc
This is a young Puerh from what I gather and is supposed to get better with aging. Oh My!
I think it’s pretty outstanding right now! I understand how aging works and I never could let a good bottle of wine last for more than a year.
Thank you for this lovely Puerh mrmopar!
another tea in line with the smaller 150 gram Menghai Dayi Wu Zi Deng Ke cake. very similar just a larger version. floral fruity and dark tea good for multiple steeps.earthy aroma. wash tea the first steep discard and drink the second one.
Above average for a ripened puerh, this has a pleasing blend of earthy flavor and a tart, rounded personality. This is considered to be one of the better ripened puerh teas, but it’s more notable for its rich, assertive character than its uniqueness. This tea will give you multiple steepings with consistently good color and flavor.